Hyundai Motor affiliate Kia hopes to boost sales of its flagship K9 luxury sedan after starting sales in the United States this week, having suffered lukewarm sales in Korea since the 2012 launch.

Citing industry sources, the Korea Herald said the carmaker unveiled the US launch plan for the K9 [also sold in some markets as the Quoris], which will be named K900 in the US, during a national dealers’ meeting held in Las Vegas last week.

“Kia officials at the meeting called the K900 a (BMW) 7 Series value for a 5 Series price,” Don Hobden, chairman of Kia’s national dealer council, was quoted as saying by US media.

The K9, Kia’s first full-size premium model, was launched in May last year to compete head-on with its parent Hyundai’ Equus and Genesis. 

The car is also known to be favoured by Hyundai Motor Group Chung Mong-koo as his commuting limousine in Seoul. 

Its sales, however, have fallen short of such high expectations, the Korea Herald said. 

Compared with a forecast of 2,000 sales a month, the car currently sells less than 500. In the first half of this year, it sold 2,965 units, down 7.4% year on year.

“Hyundai’s Genesis and Equus, since their launches in July 2008 and December 2010 in the US, have elevated the carmaker’s brand image dramatically,” Korea Investment and Securities analyst Seo Sung-moon told the paper. 

During the Las Vegas meeting, Kia executives reportedly told dealers they aim to sell about 5,000 units of the K900 next year far exceeding the circa-2,000 units that the Equus sold in 2011, its first full year of US sales. 

Pricing is expected to range between US$50,000 and $70,000. The engine offer will include V6 and V8 with the latter producing 420 horsepower. 

“Kia plans to launch the new Soul, Optima and Sportage in the fourth quarter of this year, followed by the K900 and the new Sedona (Carens in Korea; Rondo in Australia and Canada) next year,” said Seo.

“The carmaker is expected to see new record sales in the US market.”

Kia had previously planned to launch the K9 in the US and China at the end of this year but had to delay the plan due to slowing domestic sales and Hyundai’s new car launches.

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